Towards more Transnational Company Agreements?

Towards more Transnational Company Agreements?

In 2005 the European Commission put forward the idea of implementing an optional legal framework in order to promote and achieve more TCAs, before finally leaving the issue aside. In a bid to relaunch and accelerate the issue, the ETUC has put a practical instrument together destined for the European legislators. With it, if the signatories decide to work within the framework then the resulting TCA would have the same status as a company agreement in each of the countries to which it applies. 

The new ETUC management has clearly placed the restoration of collective negotiation at the heart of its priorities, and this includes transnational negotiations, or in other words, European and Global framework agreements. In the face of European level negotiations that increasingly focus on very specific issues that are oftentimes linked with business transformations, and in offering a means of going beyond the limits of national level negotiations, the ETUC is looking for TCAs to become more efficient, and for this to happen, the organization purports, a legal framework encompassing this level of negotiation is required. In order to get the initiative back on the European agenda the ETUC, with assistance from expert legal opinion, has drafted and advanced a proposal for a legal EU act.

The text would require that if the TCA signatories decide to opt into the legal framework, then the Member States would be required to recognize the TCA as coming under the same legal regime as a national company agreement. The proposed legal framework focuses on the transparency of negotiation mandates for both employers and employees and requires that the signatories set out clauses in the agreement which will prevail should there be any conflict with those written into a national agreement. Finally the draft ‘decision’ intends for the implementation of a European mediation body to settle disputes linked to the enforcement of the agreements.

By going so far as to draft a text the ETUC is taking up the initiative once again on an issue that first erupted ten years ago. When the first signs of European transnational negotiations starting to gain momentum became apparent, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment and Social Affairs considered ways of giving legal scope to TCAs, which develop outside of any regulations addressing the validity or the scope of the negotiations and for their effectiveness to be ensured the idea of this optional legal framework had come up. Following several reports, studies, and projects that all contributed to deeper knowledge and awareness of the future contours that such a legal framework should have, the European Commission eventually left the issue aside. The European Parliament attempted to get the issue back on the agenda when it adopted a draft report in 2013.

Today, the ETUC has developed a roadmap. In a press released issued on September 30, the organisation commits to « strengthen the consensus on such a proposal, by discussing and working with the employers’ side ». For the moment, employers’ organizations that are against such any legal framework argue that from the outset TCAs must be voluntary and purely contractual in nature. Inserting a legal element, even as an option will deter companies from concluding TCAs. The ETUC will also « continue discussing and lobbying the European Commission. In particular, the ETUC will push the Commission to support our work on the proposals for the mediation and registration mechanisms, as a starting point for the development of an optional legal framework ».

Source: www.planetlabor.com